Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Myrtle Beach - March 2011 Part 2

Continuing my Myrtle Beach post from a few weeks ago....

I went for a late afternoon trip to Huntington State Park - to see what there was to see.  There is a very nice, untouched and ungroomed beach here compared to the beaches by the condos.  There are some mild dunes that find themselves between the southeastern forests and the ocean.

Beach at Huntington State Park
Here are some of the shore birds I was able to see and capture some photos of.

Willett Sandpiper
The Willett Sanpiper is one of the larger in the sandpiper family.  It's about three times the size of the sandpipers were used to seeing on the beaches in Southern Ontario.

Willett Sandpiper
The Ruddy Turnstone gets its name for doing it exactly what it sounds like, flipping stones over looking for bugs and small sea creatures to make lunch out of.  Sometimes they will dig holes larger than themselves pursuing something like a crab, burrowed in the sand.

Ruddy Turnstone
Apparently, if you've seen a shore bird, you'll most likely have seen one of these - a Sanderling - as they are the most wide spread shore bird in the world.

Sanderling in Winter Plumage
Also at Huntington Beach State Park, there is a unique feature called a salt water marsh.  The tides flood it with salt water, and it is a breeding ground for things like shrimp.  The egrets, herons, and terns usually flock here, but I must have hit a slow day.  I saw some, but not many...

Immature Double Crested Cormorant sunning
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Snow Egret
Great Egret
The park also has a fresh water lagoon which had a large number of American Alligators.  They got quite close to a number of us were standing (about 5 other photographers there - with much bigger "fire power"!!) which was somewhat unnerving at first.  However, we were up an embankment which separated the fresh water lagoon from the salt water marsh.  Apparently they cross this every night, and we were counting on the fact that they were planning to do this later in the evening when we were gone.

A young American Alligator
A younger American Alligator, waiting in the algae.  Probably was about 5 ft long
A large bull American Alligator sunning in the mud.
American Alligator - swimming towards the crossing point we were taking pictures from.  It was probably about 12 ft long.

The common Moorhen is a unique bird.  The males exclusively build the nests, but they build more than one.  One is used for hatching the young, but when the babies are mobile, they will travel around use the other nests for sleeping at night.

Common Moorhen
And of course a turtle had to be sunning somewhere...
What I think is a River Cooter
As I was leaving, I saw this Merlin up in the trees. Though I followed it for quite a while, it was not going to let me get too close, so this was the best I got.  The Merlin is a small falcon, very active and very aggressive, often pestering and competing with larger hawks.

All in all, a great 6 hours or so of enjoying a wide variety of animals and birds I don't get to see in my part of the world.  What a vast number of creatures He has made for us to enjoy and marvel at.

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